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Disambiguation: Kaby Lake Refresh =/= Coffee Lake

Billy-Bob_Kenobi
  • 31 months ago

So, back when we were all trying to puzzle out what the hell Intel was doing from leaked slides, there was some question as to what "Kaby Lake Refresh" meant, with some suggesting it was an alternative name for Coffee Lake. One of the tidbits from yesterday's announcement is that "Kaby Lake Refresh" is, in fact, a separate product -- higher core count versions of existing laptop chips, built on the same 14+ process as Kaby Lake:

In our pre-briefings, Intel only mentioned Coffee Lake in the context of the fact that today’s launch is not Coffee Lake. Because media were expecting this to be Coffee Lake (and expecting it to be a desktop processor launch), the question ‘is this Coffee Lake’ was actually asked several times, and the answer had to be repeated. These four new CPUs are still Kaby Lake CPUs built on the same 14+ technology, with minor updates, and bringing quad cores to 15W.

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Comments

[comment deleted]
  • 31 months ago
  • 1 point

Somehow I read this as "we wanted to decouple processes and architectures from generations to make things less clear for ordinary consumers, and wring every last dollar we can from each change we make."

  • 31 months ago
  • 1 point

To be scrupulously fair, at least one other fab has said something along the same lines: as the process nodes shrink, it would seem they're going to become increasingly specialized for either performance or power efficiency.

[edit to add: and price, of course.]

[comment deleted]
  • 31 months ago
  • 1 point

A lot of fabs seem focused on mobile and low power since it is a growing market. I don't know though, seems RISC-y to me. :)

[comment deleted]
[comment deleted]
  • 31 months ago
  • 1 point

Apparently, though, this Kaby Lake refresh will exist alongside future units from Coffee and Cannon Lake. Even if performance isn't drastically different, lumping them all under "8th gen" seems a bit off. I can write it off to some extent as being similar to the "Core i" designation in that those that know what they are doing look at other specs anyway, and those that don't aren't necessarily going to notice the difference within each segment, but... eh. I don't look forward to explaining to someone why one "8th gen Core i3" has better power consumption/performance/whatever than another "8th gen Core i3" with similar spec.

I'm no expert when it comes to CPU manufacturing, so I'm unsure of the cost difference in production methods. I was under the assumption that Intel already ran multiple lines, which could mean they save some here by staggering runs; plus by making simpler tweaks and refinements to a process, then re-marketing it as next gen, they might make some runs cheaper and quicker to produce (14nm to 14nm+ is probably easier than 14nm to 10nm, for example). Obviously pure speculation, since I've never seen the inside of an Intel fab, but it is entirely possible.

[comment deleted]
  • 31 months ago
  • 1 point

I meant that if they have Line A on Wnm and Line B on Xnm, then want to ramp production of next gen Y out of testing and into preliminary production, they could remove the older Wnm on Line A but continue Xnm on Line B (perhaps with a refresh or other small improvement). So when Z is ready for production, they can stop Line B's Xnm+ in favour of Z while they continue to improve Line A's production. So now you have Ynm+ and Znm.

I'm hideously oversimplifying this, but hopefully I explained it well enough. Long story short, it should even out the production (higher yield refresh+lower yield new process) among some other possible benefits.

Again, all speculation unless Intel decides to divulge company secrets about their specific manufacturing processes.

[comment deleted by staff]

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